If you name it, they will come

Lagoa des Sete Cidades, Sao Miguel, Azores by Cinty Ionescu via Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved

Lagoa des Sete Cidades, Sao Miguel, Azores by Cinty Ionescu via Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved

I'm heading out on vacation soon, which naturally prompts friends and colleagues to ask, "Where are you going?"

If I told them "Maine," it would be easy for people to paint a picture in their heads. Same for Florence, Beijing, London or even Reykjavik, in recent years.

But I'm going to the Azores and that destination is a blank slate for most. The name is sort of familiar, but little else, so I go on to explain...

"It's a group of nine volcanic islands, nearly 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal. Pretty cool, because it only takes about four hours to fly there." 

While this gets a few polite head nods, it still doesn't make flashbulbs go off. So last night I tried a different tack: "It's the Hawaii of the Atlantic." And, while that's a Barnumesque fabrication, it generated an entirely different response:

"Wow, that sounds so cool!" 

That's because we open our minds to new things by comparing them to other things we already know. And when you name that thing, it makes it easier to spread the idea to others. 

For example, my friends at Jet.com had a hard time explaining their business model until someone said, "it's like a cross between Amazon and Costco," a catchy idea that is easy to understand—and even easier to catch on. 

See you soon, everybody. I look forward to sharing more Mental Shavings with you when I return from my trip. When it comes to hot travel destinations, I hear the Azores are "the new Iceland." (Or maybe I just made that up.)